Wednesday, May 4, 2011

From Farmers to Grocer’s to Tire Dealers: They were Enterprising Haas’s

When I started working on some family history of Cal and Becky Haas, I thought I’d find some interesting stories about this colorful man and how he built a family business from scratch. I was pleasantly surprised to find how his brothers were just as enterprising in their own business ventures.
(Please also click here for a post of the many Haas gravesites in Andreas.)

~This is a companion piece to "I Think of Cal Everyday."  That post covers more on Cal Haas, his store, his family, and his colorful life.  Find it by clicking here.

(You can watch one of Cal and Robert Haas' Deep Sea Fishing Trips on YouTube.)

Peter and Sally (Beltz) Haas

A watercolor by Kutztown State College student Randolph Rabenold of
Haas Store painted in 1953.

A young David Haas, son of Peter
and Sally.

It all started on a working man’s farm in Schuylkill County. David Haas (April 1856-November 1937) and Mary Alice Straub (May 1862-1927) were married in 1878, when he was 22 and she was 16. They had twelve children (of 17 born) live to adulthood.

1. Alice (August 1880) (Knepper)
2. Agnes (March 1882)
3. Clint (September 1883)
4. Ivan (August 1887)
5. David E (January 1889)
6. Jeremiah “Jerry” Victor (December 22, 1892)
7. Jennie (1894)
8. Raymond (March 1896)
9. Walter (c. 1899)
10. Calvin (November 1899)
11. Sadie (1902)
12. Wilmer (1905)

David & Mary Alice's Clan -
Front, left to right: Wilmer, Jennie Haas Kemerer, David, Agnes, kneeling front, Mary Alice, Sadie, kneeling front, Alice, and Calvin on the end. 
Back: Walter, Jerry, Ivan, Clint, Davie, and Raymond.
Farm life didn’t seem to be leading them to any sizable wealth, which I believe led to a hunger to do better, to accomplish a more comfortable life in retail trade.
Calvin Haas with his sister Sadie c. 1904.

Dave and Mary Alice lived here, at 222 South
Sixth Street, Lehighton from the
1920s to 1930s.  Dave shucked oysters
to make ends meet.  Rory Hahn's mother was
born here after the Haas's passed.  Rory
just sold it in the last year.
Eventually, David and Mary Alice seemed to follow their children into Lehighton. They lived at 222 South Sixth Street. Oysters were to become a common thread from father to son. It was David who first made a business of shucking oysters delivered in large burlap bags. He’d sort them right away between fryers or stewers for soup, careful to save the juice. And when David passed away, it was Cal who took over this endeavor.

It was Mary Alice who passed away first, and David resorted to taking in boarders to make ends meet. In 1930, he lived with two other widowers, 74-year-old Catherine Walk, listed as a “boarder” and Susan Levan, listed as a 69-year-old “housemaid.” Cal’s daughter Miriam has an early memory of taking groceries to her grandfather with her dad Cal.

FOUR HAAS Generations - Here is David Haas, with great grandson Dale
Shellhammer Junior (who later became Reverend Shellhammer).  Behind
David is his oldest child Alice Knepper and her daughter Elva.


Alice Haas married John Knepper in 1898.  They had 3 children: Norman (1900), Bertha (1904), and Elva (1915).  Elva married a Shellhammer and had sons Dale and Kurt.  It has been said that she has granddaughter named Bernice who lived/lives in Lehighton.

#2 - Agnes Haas Kunkle–
Agnes Haas Kunkle with her sister-in-law Becky and
brother Cal Haas "porch sitting" at brother
Raymond Haas's house in East Weissport.  The
home has since burned down, owned by Ray's grandson
Doug Haas near Storm Lumber.

Not much is known about the eldest child. By 1910, she was married to Hilarius Kunkle and living with them was Irvin J. Kershner. The handwriting on this record is hard to read. Is it possible that this could be a son of Jennie Haas Kemmerer? One surviving story is that when she died, being rather poor and her daughters had a struggle over how best to properly bury her. Family legend says her casket was of a thin cardboard.


He married Mamie Houser (b. 1888) in 1904 when he was 20 and she was 16 (Her father was Amandus House and her mother was the former Amanda's that for a near palindrome couple?). By the 1910 Census, they had two children, Paul (1905) and Verna (1907). They were still in West Penn near his uncle Lewis Haas’ farm, he was working as a laborer and doing “odd jobs.” He was also looking after Augustus George, a thirteen year old orphan. (His parents were Lewis and Ellen and had a sister Savanna. It looks like Ellen died and Lewis moved from Slatington to Allentown.)

By 1920, Clinton was a farmer, lumberman, and hotel owner in Snyders. He sold lumber to the mines and ran a general farm. It has also been said that he dealt in cattle as well.  He employed Clarence Kistler (34), Embrose Luderllner (56), Amandus Balliet (17) as “servant” wood cutters and lived with him on the farm or at the hotel. Also living with the Haas's was the bar tender Benjamin Holler (66) along with Nathan Reinhart (58) “farm hand.” Helen Young (14) was a domestic servant on the farm too. In addition to their children Verna and Paul Haas, now there was Olive (b. 1912) and Elwood A. Haas (1918).

By 1930, Clinton and family were living in South Whitehall, between Wernersville and Walberts along old Route 160. He was now living on a farm and working as a self-employed real estate broker, though his death certificate says he was a "retired livestock dealer." Elwood (now 12) was still at home along with Verna and her husband Erasmus Zehner (29) and their children Fern M (2) and Curtis (1 month old in April).

Erasmus worked as a “huckstering merchant.” And they had a group of boarders and servants living with them, some continuing on from the hotel back in Snyders. William Ruch (45) a clerk at a roadside stand, Clarence Kistler (45) a hired farm hand. Reuben Kutz (58) and Leroy Hess (19) were “out of work laborers.” Catherine (16) and Edna (13) Solt worked as “servants.”

Daughter Olive (18) married John Zegalia (25) in 1928 who worked as an auto mechanic. They had a 1 ½ year old daughter Dorothy O. Zeglia.  In May of 1955 they moved to San Antonio, Texas.  They were there only four months when Olive hanged herself.  She was only forty-four plus twenty days.

Around 1927, Clinton was diagnosed with an inflamed heart.  Then sometime around 1928, Mamie was diagnosed with uterine cancer.  Clint's heart gave out on 10/10/30 at the age of forty-seven.  Mamie passed twelve days later.


This yellow home on the left is 121 South Ninth St Lehighton
where Ivan lived with his family, bringing his little brother
Cal along with them before 1920.
In his WWI Draft card, he was working for his brother Clinton, and asked for an exception “due to health.” By 1920, Ivan was still living in West Penn and was a “huckster” of groceries. In 1930, Ivan and Lena were living at 121 South Ninth Street Lehighton as a “green grocer.”

(Incidentally, this is near where the Rabenold family was also living.)  Living with him were sons Leslie (19) who was a weaver in the Silk Mill, Elmer (12), Marvin (7), and daughter Elsie (2). On his 1942 draft card, he was living at 101 Stedman Ave with Lena and working in Bethlehem at Rowler Smith Electric, defense contractor. He died May of 1963.

(Cal living with Ivan goes back to when Cal was just ten years old.  Cal moved to Ninth St with Ivan and his family.  He was living with him by 1910. Ivan owned a farm. On David and Mary Alice's farm at that time was Jeremiah (Jerry), Jennie, Raymond, Walter, Sadie and Wilmer.)

Methodist Cemetery in Andreas.


Another Haas Business - Second and Bridge -
This was once Davie Haas's home and Ice Cream Shop.  He
didn't run it long, moving over a block to Third St by 1930. 
Davie married Jennie in 1906 when he was 17 and she was 19 while still living in West Penn. They stayed with his brother Ivan and his wife Lena (c. 1890) along with their young daughter Beulah.
Davie's family lived here at 381-383 South Third from the
1920s until the mid to late 1940s.  They also owned and rented
out the small pink home on the corner.  This is where Elaine
Haas Frantz grew up.  She always loved the charming little
house where railroad workers rented, but the family moved to
the Allentown area after her graduation from LHS.  Davie, like
Clinton, became a Real Estate broker.  (Coincidentally, it was
Miss Evelyn Christman who purchased this property from the
Haas's.  Click this link for "Secrets of the Big Creek Valley"
to learn more about her and involvement in the business
and death of Pierce Rehrig.)
Davie Haas first set up house near the Ebenezer Evangelical Church near Third and South Streets where he was an elder. In the 1920s, he moved the family to the Bridge Street Hotel where they lived and operated an ice cream parlor in the front triangular section. By 1930, they purchased 381-383 and 393 South Third Street.

Davie owned his $12,000 home and was a “produce merchant in town.” His daughter Beulah (c. 1907) married Elmer Raudenbush (c. 1901) who lived at 381 and they had a daughter Shirley (c. 1928). Elmer also worked in produce. Elmer was born to Grant and Lily Raudenbush who were next door neighbors to Ivan when they lived in West Penn Township.

Chester and Minnie Asplin rented 393 South Third St from Davie and Jennie Haas. Chester (c. 1892) and Minnie (1896)
lived there with their children Lenette (c. 1914) and Abbott (c. 1917). Chester was from Ohio and was working in the Penn Lace Mill (across from Baer’s Silk Mill) as a weaver.


In 1920, Jerry Victor Haas (27) was also living in Lehighton, on Tenth Street, near the Sebring farm. Jerry was a driver on a Baker’s wagon and perhaps introduced his brother Calvin to this line of work. Jerry and his wife Carrie B. (b. February 1896) had their 3 year old son Henry D. Carrie was the daughter of Henry Junior (b. May 1863) and Rosa (b. July 1861) Danzer who first lived in Hacklebernie and then moved next to the Sebring Farm in Lehighton. By 1930, they lived at 915 Carrot St. in Allentown and owned a tire shop at 538 Tilghman Street.
Jeremiah "Jerry" Victor Haas working
at the Tropical Fruit Store in Allentown
after he closed his tire business
around the 1960s.

They added a son Robert (7) in addition to Henry.  He continued in the tire business into the 1950s.  The shop, as told to me, mainly a re-treading business, was near 10th or 11th Street.   His 1942 WWII draft card said he was 49, 5’ 9” tall, blue eyes and gray hair, 185 pounds.  In his post-tire business years of the 1960s, he worked for the "Tropical Fruit Store" at 6th and Tilghman Sts in Allentown.

Jerry died in February 1974.


Jennie M. Haas seemed to have tough times.  Born in June of 1894, she and her husband Erasmus A. Kemerer had a pair of twins died in 1914 (likely stillborn or otherwise so young they were unnamed).  She was widowed at the fairly young age of 51.   Additionally, some said she had a daughter and was estranged from her and that she also struggled with bouts with her mental health.  No record exists of her having any living children, though a 16-year-old named Lillian Boyer lived with her as a lodger in 1930.  Afer her hsuband died, it was said that she had a heavy flirting hand.  Some remember her to sit and wait for men to pass her brother Cal's Store: She'd smile while batting her eyes and waving her hanky, and freshly introduce herself saying how much she needed a man. She died in August of 1978.  The year on her tombstone was never updated.  Though both were born and buried in the West Penn/Andreas area, Erasmus Kemerer ran a coal and lumber timbering business in Franklin Township from the 1920s into the 1940s.


My favorite picture: Young Cal, Raymond and 'Wal' Walter Haas share
a brother's joke together on a cold winter ride.  They look like they are
showing classic Haas humor to me.
By 1920, Raymond (23) was married to Beulah M. Haas (20) and living on a farm in New Mahoning (just above the former Spring Dell ice cream shop). They had a daughter Myrtle B. Haas (2) and nine month old Mary A. (January 1920). They still farmed there in the 1930s and also had Eleanor (9) and Lelah M. age nearly 4.  Later, in the 1940s Ray and Beulah built a home along Main Road in East Weissport, next to the Storm Lumber Mill.


Walter Haas (c. 1899) married Alice (c. 1898) around 1917. They lived at 372 South Second Street. They had Stella (c. 1918), Minnie (c. 1920), and Pauline (c. 1922). Walter worked in the produce business and owned his $5,000 home. In the 1920 Census, Walter and Alice were in Lehighton, living near Railroad Street, 21 and 20 years old, working as a laborer on the “steam railway.” They had a daughter named Stella.
Wally Haas had his grocery store here before moving into
cabin rentals in Clearwater Beach Florida.  In the 1990s, his
nephew Bobby Haas purchased the property as a rental but
has since sold it.

They ran a store at 372 South Second Street in Lehighton back in the 1930s. His niece Elaine Haas Frantz described him as “not a drinker, but he didn’t go to church either.” He had two daughters, Minnie and Evelyn. Minnie was a nurse at Palmerton Hospital. In the early 1940s Walter moved to Clearwater Beach Florida when daughter Evelyn was in 9th grade. He rented nine cabins out to tourists. When Elaine Haas Frantz graduated from Lehighton High School in 1945, she and her sister Beulah traveled by train for a visit. Beulah left after a few weeks but Elaine stayed for eight months working in various waitressing jobs until finally returning to her father David’s new home in Allentown.

Rory Hahn’s parents bought David Haas’ 222 South Sixth Street home after David passed away sometime in the early 1930s. He remembers his parents referring to a “Wal” Haas and sometimes as “grandpa.” “Wal” Haas held the $800 mortgage for Rory’s parents, Donald & Anna Hahn. Only in the last year has Rory and his wife Linda moved out of this home.

In December 2003, a 23-year old Raymond Herbert Haas died in Jacksonville, Florida. His parents were Herbert Jr. and Patricia Haas. I cannot confirm any relation to Walter.


Then the two paths of Cal and Becky merged in Lehighton. And life here hasn’t been the same since.

Rebecca Emma came from the Nothstein clan, one of the founding families of the Mahoning Valley who settled there in 1800. (They joined the Beck’s, Freyman’s, and Musselman’s.) Frederick Nothstein descended from Colonel Peter Nothstein of the Revolutionary War. His grave is on the hill near the ball field at Normal Square. Fred married Ellen Werley. They had 2 sons and 3 daughters: Etha who married Amzie Siglin, James, Rebecca, Kate who married Elvin E. Boyer from Bowmanstown, and youngest son Andrew.

The Nothsteins around 1907 - James, Andrew
Becky and little Katie with mother Ellen. 
Ellen was a Werley from Werley's Corner,
but came to live in East Penn with Daniel
and Sarah Shoemaker.  It was from there
she met Fred Nothstein of Mahoning Valley.
(Missing from the photo is father Fred and
oldest daughter Etha.)

Cal Haas was born on his parents’ farm in West Penn on November 14th of 1899. His father was one of 3 Haas brothers who married 3 Straub sisters (William married Emma S. and John married Sarah).
This death announcement of Mrs. Levi Shafer of Weissport
has a trove of Haas info.  You can see the three Haas
brothers who married the three Straub sisters.  (Oscar
Straub was actually James Oscar, Cal's uncle who
ran the grain elevator in Weissport.)

Becky was born on December 5, 1902 on the Nothstein family farm. But when she was 14, Fred died of a stroke, causing her to work with her mother cleaning homes. Ellen had to sell the farm and move into Lehighton as a servant for Phanus and Annie Gerber. Gerber lived at 415 North Fourth Street and was said to be a magnetic healer. Ellen continued to live there after the Gerbers passed away with Etha and Amzie.
Here is 415 North Fourth Street in Lehighton, the former
home of Ellen Nothstein after she sold the farm.  She first
lived here with as a servant to a magnetic healer, then
her daughter Etha and her husband Amzie Ziglin lived
with her too.  (The nearer half double next to smaller
yellow home.)
Announcement of Fred's stroke in the Lehighton Press,
January 26, 1917.  Also on this page are Fred and
Amandus Haas. 
No relationship to Cal can be drawn at this time
Ellen Nothstein was widowed at age 48.  Here she is across from her 4th
Street home in Lehighton on Mother's Day 1950.  Encricled by her children,
from left: Katie Boyer, Etha Siglin, James, Andrew, and Becky.  Ellen
died that July. 

By the time Cal Haas turned 10, he was living with his brother Ivan and his wife Lena at first on their farm near David and Mary Alice. Another brother, David E. also lived with them for a time. Ivan came to Lehighton to work as a green grocer by 1917 and Cal came along, living at 121 South Ninth Street. So it was Ivan who most likely introduced Cal to the grocery business.

Cal and Becky on their wedding day.
Apparently the uprooting they endured at an early age sent Becky and Cal to marry at a fairly tender age on June 21, 1919: he at nineteen and she at sixteen.

They first rented the upper end of the row home at 457 South Seventh Street. Cal worked a variety of jobs, as a laborer on the Lehigh Valley Railroad and for the gas works (over the bank near the mouth of the Mahoning Creek).
Standing: David, Becky Nothstein Haas, Mary Alice Straub Haas, Cal, Jerry, Ivan, and Raymond.  On the Ground: boy Leslie and Bertha (Children of Ivan & Lena).  Next is Carrie Danzer, wife of Jerry Haas.  At her back is son Robert (owner of funeral home in Fullerton) and other son Henry, who is holding Myrtle, Raymond's daughter.  Picture from Luella Reed Sebo whose mother is Myrtle Haas.
This is the home David and Mary Alice built in Andreas.  Most likely the
site of the above picture.

He also peddled cookies and bread to people’s homes for Strohl’s Bakery near the corner of Fourth and Mahoning. (It was the smaller building next to what later became Young’s Bakery; today the Strohl building has been rebuilt into a dance studio and the former Young’s Bakery is now Verona’s Pizza.) On his baker’s route is where Cal learned the value of the home grocery business he would later develop so well on his own.

All of Becky and Cal’s children were born at home, delivered by Dr. Haberman who charged $2 for the house call and $10 for child delivery. Madeline F. (9/25/20), Miriam C. (5/11/25), and Mildred E. (2/24/27) were all born in the Seventh Street home.
The first home of Cal and Becky on South Seventh Street.
The far end of the row is where Cal bounced quarters into
a milk bottle, scuffing up the kitchen corner wall.
The Strohl's Bakery property has been torn down but here is how it
looked in 2005. 

One astonishing thing about this industrious man was he did it with just a third grade education. And yet he loved to read. Bill and Arlene Snyder were perhaps Cal and Becky’s best friends. The Snyders were generous with their time and gifts. In fact, having no children of their own, Arlene “Lenie” often warned the Haas children not to tell the Snyder nieces and nephews what they gave them.

By 1930, Cal was the owner and proprietor of his own grocery business at Fifth and Coal Streets in Lehighton (today’s Nationwide Insurance; Cal’s great grandson Nate Rabenold works there today).

A current watercolor by another Kutztown product,
artist Cris Hess.  Created from a 1996 picture.

Cal & Becky's former home is a now Markley's Nationwide
Insurance Agency.  Nate Rabenold is an agent there, making
him a third generation Haas to earn a living there.
The home/business was appraised at $10,000. Oral history says that Lawrence Buck of Towamensing Township most likely built the store in 1929 because he was known to have done remolding work there in the early years of the store. (Lawrence was born in Weissport in 1888 and by 1917, had moved his family to Akron Ohio where he worked as a wheelwright and carpenter. The Bucks moved back to the area by the 1930s.)

The Haas family continued to grow at the new home with Robert C. (born September 1, 1932), then Ruth Arlene(9/7/34), Hilbert (5/14/36), and Betty Mae (9/10/40). There were a few children born who did not survive. All these children would of course have a role in the family business.
Happy times behind the store during the War.  That's Bobby and his
sister Ruth on the front sled.  Successive generations continue to sled there.

Cal’s idea of a grocery business did not solely involve sitting and waiting for his customers to come to him. His enterprising nature had him in the streets peddling his groceries. According to daughter Miriam, even the 1931 blizzard wouldn’t stop Cal. With a team of horses he borrowed from Bill Snyder’s parents, he hitched a sleigh and away he went with his deliveries. Cal (like daughter Ruth) was always hot no matter how cold it was. He was well known for wearing only a thin brown cardigan even on the coldest of days.

Cal called his delivery wagon his “store on wheels.” And he always had a rabbit painted on it as Haas is German for ‘rabbit.’ Mondays and Wednesdays were designated as Route #1 and Tuesdays and Thursdays were Route #2. Saturday was the big order day when he visited his best customers from both routes. The truck would hold about fifteen to twenty orders at a time and on Saturdays he returned for two or three times to restock. While out, the oldest Haas children, Madeline, Miriam, and Mildred, would walk the neighborhoods with pad and pencil taking orders that Cal would deliver in between trips. Miriam remembers having the truck re-stocked and ready to roll each morning at seven a.m.
One of Cal's new delivery sedans.  According to Bobby, his
dad had to replace two of the ones he wrecked up.  His dad
never owned a car, so he used the delivery van with a home-
made wooden bench seat in the back if he took more than
one friend anywhere.

Son Robert (“Bobby”) would often accompany his dad on these long trips. He remembers, with gas hard to come by due to war rationing, how Cal would coast in neutral with the engine off from the hill before Beltz’s airport on into LaRose’s Skating Rink. And Bobby, being the boy that he was and in a hurry to get home, would trick Cal when they made a cold-call stop at customer’s home. As Cal readied to toot the horn, Bobby would lean outside the truck to throw a falsetto voice, saying, “None today please.”

It was on these trips that Cal showed his mischievousness teasing of women. Mrs. Stein was a regular customer on the very south end of First Street, near Niehoff’s greenhouses. For a long time, she did her best to deflect Cal’s playful entreaties. Not to be taken lightly, on this particular day Cal decided to show her just how frustrated she made him. At Mrs. Stein’s rejection, Cal pulled a piece of liver pudding through the front of the zipper of his pants. Standing at the folded down driver’s seat that served as his cutting board, Cal informed Mrs. Stein that since she was not interested he wouldn’t need a certain piece of anatomy, to which he dramatically hacked with his knife. It was Bobby and Donnie Niehoff who helped the fainted housewife from the street.
Most every corner store had one of these pictures.
Freihofer's Bakery shot the owner holding their bread.
This 2'x3' picture hung in the store until the day it closed
in 1998.

Cal would stock his store through bartering. He’d trade groceries and lunch meat for poultry and potatoes with farmers along his route. On Friday’s run to Monroe County, he could stop at up to fifteen different farmers for four or five dozen eggs here, potatoes from this one, and another five or six dozen of eggs there. Through this piece meal process he built up his inventory.

The store had large wooden barrels of molasses and white and brown vinegar as well as kerosene for sale stored in the basement. Delbert Haydt’s farm, Haydt’s Meats in Trachsville, was originally the farm of David Griffith, Delbert’s father-in-law. Delbert remembered being out on delivery for his father-in-law when he stopped to barter and fill some items on his orders from Haas’ Store. He asked Cal for several quarts of molasses. So while Delbert gathered the few other items, Cal went to the cellar to tap out the quarts. But Cal seemed to be gone an awfully long time. When Delbert found him, he was asleep at the open tap, up to his ankles in molasses.  (Delbert graduated from Lehighton and recently passed away, March 22, 2011.)

Bobby Haas remembers two other sticky situations in the cellar. Once a barrel rolled off the plank between the truck and the cellar door and broke open on the sidewalk. Another time, one opened up in the cellar. It took gallons of hot water peppered with much Dutch cursing to get it all cleaned up.

All these long days gave Cal little time at home. And many nights were filled in the cellar shucking oysters. Many who visited Cal would often pitch in and bag fifteen pound bags of potatoes from the bin while they shot the breeze, sometimes as late as two or three in the morning. Cal took over this endeavor after his father passed away in the early 1930s. The oysters were delivered on ice in large burlap bags from Peterson’s of Allentown. He had a counter built with a hole in the center to drop the shells in. Bill Snyder would take the shells to fill in the ruts on the dirt alley down the back.

Bill Blocker and Dick “Jockey” Semmel were among those who would come to sit with Cal while he shucked. In fact, Dick Semmel would get a three-week leave from the Army and spend all twenty-one nights listening to Cal. He had a colorful way of telling stories, mostly off-color. Cal had a way of saying whatever came to his mind and had a reputation as a good story teller. One theme repeated quite often was how much he liked Becky’s sister Kate so much better than Becky.

When asked why he didn’t marry Katie instead, he’d remark how lucky he was to have them both for marrying one. Katie was his “schweet schwester from Valksville (Walksville).”(Cal may have heard this line repeated by his father and uncles who undoubtedly chided each other about their sister wives. (Among my old notes from Ruth Haas on the Straub's (interchangeable with Straup) James Oscar Straub, an uncle to Cal, became the operator of the grain elevator in Weissport that still stands along the railroad tracks today.)
The Rail spur as it left the grain elevator in Weissport, run for a while by
Oscar Straub and later, Kenny Straub as "Strauby's Mill."  Oscar was
Cal's uncle. 

The iconic Purina red-white checker can still be seen today. 

Bill Blocker remembers how kind Becky Haas was to him during the war and when he was sick. He remembers fondly the regular care packages she sent him when he was overseas. After the war, he would do odd jobs like bagging potatoes, or straighten up the cellar or some painting job. He also remembers taking the piles of oyster shells out to the farm where the Meadow Crest development now stands, across from the fairgrounds. The farm had a hammer-mill to grind chicken feed.  Bill recalled how raucous the sound was of the hard shells hitting the grinder.
Bill Blocker was a long-time Haas family friend who sold coal.

A Strauby's Mill receipt to Haas' from
the 1950s.  Cal's Dad David was one of
three Haas brothers who married three
Straub Sisters.  Oscar Straub was
one of his brother-in-laws.

Ezra Kreiss with the Haas's Dachshund "Suzie."

There are many stories that point to Becky’s kindness, but perhaps this care for Bill grew out of the loss of Madeline’s husband, Ezra Kreiss, who was lost at sea during a training exercise in the English Channel leading up to D-Day in an exercise known as "Operation Tiger" on 28 April 1944. His ship was two of eight LSTs sunk by a German 'schnell' boat, a high-speed attack craft. Madeline worked at the store her whole life, first with her parents and later under her brother Bobby. Little ‘Ezzie’ spent a lot of time in the store with his mom and grandparents.

(Eventually Madeline remarried Chester Folweiler, who it can be said was rather eccentric himself. One of his many exploits, possibly in the early 1960s, was his attempt at walking across the state. He started at the Delaware River and made it to Paoli. Becky answered the call at the store, to whom he said, “Ma’am, I’ve failed.” The newspaper headline read, “30 Miles and Ouch!”)
Cal's 1942 tax receipt.

All the necessities Cal sold during the war were rationed. Kerosene, sugar, butter, meats and so on. And Cal did what he could to provide his customers with more than their ration stamps would allow. For this, Cal enlisted Earl Simmons of the Simmons Brothers garage and “drayman” coal haulers from north Fifth Street. Earl would make a run with his coal truck, suited with false paneled compartments beneath a bed of coal, to “smuggle” bootlegged meat back into Lehighton for the store. Cigarettes were also rationed and bootlegged. Bobby remembers breaking down packs into bundles of five and re-wrapping them to be sold to their trustworthy customers without stamps.
Not ones to disregard past loyalties,
for every shipment of coal from long time
friend Bill Blocker is a corresponding
order from another longtime friend William
and Earl Simmons.

Earl was a good friend of Cal’s. The two of them enjoyed deep sea fishing together as can be seen in home movies. But sometimes Cal’s pent up steam was greater than the situation could bear. One fishing trip resulting in never leaving Lehigh County. On the way to Delaware, always through Ironton, the men stopped in at the Ironton Hotel for drinks and a meal. Well they were having such a wonderful time, flirting with the woman bartender that they never left, spending their two days vacation at the hotel.  (Click here for Youtube video of Cal deep sea fishing.)

There are more than a few stories of Cal’s excesses with alcohol. On at least one occasion, Cal would stop at his favorite stop, Diehl’s Triangle Hotel at South First and Bankway. A call would come in, “Cal’s too drunk to finish his route,” and Bobby or Miriam had to walk to the truck and finish the deliveries. And sometimes, Lehighton cop “Tuggles” Armbruster would bring Cal home and he’d walk back to the Eagles club. Another time, Cal drove the wrong car home. Tuggles came to retrieve it and Cal said he’d get his car in the morning.
Perhaps Cal's second favorite watering hole,
the Eagles Club, as it looks today.

From the Eagles looking south toward the park in Lehighton.

Cal had one of the first television sets in town. He enjoyed movies, baseball and boxing. On Friday evenings, he would set up rows of chairs for all his friends to come in and watch with him. And movies stars always had a special name from Cal: Bela Lugosi became “Belsa Vigosi,” Erol Flynn, whom he didn’t particularly care for was a “woman sucker,” and the star Hugo Haas, was “Yugo Haas, one mean devil.” The hapless Mets were his team.
The Southern end of town - Diehl's old "Triangle Hotel" was formed
where Bankway splits off of First Street.

The store was also the neighborhood hub for telephone calls too, with only about half of the surrounding homes owning one. So the Haas children often times acted as messengers, carrying work instructions to the railroaders from their dispatchers as well as urgent news from family members far and wide.
Over regulation today?  In 1950, you needed a yearly $2.00
license to sell margarine!

Cal would also relax by loading up the car with a picnic lunch of oyster stew in a thermos and take Becky to the ‘Ridge Cup’ just over Pine Hill to go car watching and ball bouncing. Cal was somewhat of an eccentric when it came to counting. He counted his money by filling lengths of pipes with quarters and half dollars when he needed to save for tires or taxes, keeping his accounting of his savings on long pieces of butcher paper strung up in the hallway. One of his savings ventures went to pay for a 1950 Ford with a police engine that he paid $2,000. Taxes and tires are other things Cal saved for in this way.

Cal had some idiosyncratic hobbies. When they moved from their Seventh Street home, the corner wall in the kitchen needed repairs from all the knicks he put in it from his incessant pitching of quarters into a milk bottle in the corner. But he is probably best known for his ball bouncing.
More regulation for the small businesses: a permit
to sell soft drinks and syrups.

He reached one million two different times. According to Bobby he wore out five different balls in the process (Jockey Semmel said seven). He’d record a circled dot for every one hundred on a piece of butcher paper. Customers waited for meat in increments of one hundred. One day Cal went to prove to a disbelieving salesman about his feat and went to pull out the records in his safe. He near lost his mind when he found they had been taken out and they were never found.

And the next generation's entrepenuarial spirit - "Garvin's Restaurant" was at the corner of Third and Coal, two blocks
from the store.  It was started in the 1960s by Cal and Becky's daughter, Mildred "Sis" Haas Garvin.  (Sis passed away
April 29th, 2011.)
Dick “Jockey” Semmel was quite fond of Cal, and Cal for Jockey. But when Dick first moved into the neighborhood as a teen, Cal would intimidate him. He remembered how Cal would stare at him in the store while he waited to go out with Bobby. One day Cal broke the silence and said, “I don’t like you…you’re von of dem gang leadas (leaders).” For the longest time, Dick only referred to him as “Mr. Haas,” but eventually they became quite close. One day, a salesman asked if Dick was his son, to which Cal replied, “Not exactly…I catch the fish and he feeds dem to da multitudes.”
Son Hilbert's employment certificate to work at the family
business when he was 16 in 1952.

When Bobby wanted to join the Navy, he would plead, saying, “And Ruthie wants to go to nursing school too.” To this Cal would say, “You hain’t join’ no European Navy and she hain’t goin’ to college….If she goes, so will dat gumball machine.”
Could you get sticker shock with
prices like this today?  And even at those
prices, look at the accumulated total this
customer acrued.
Cal leading his daughter away from their
home and store one last time back in
September of 1953.

One sore spot for any store owner were all the unpaid bills, as most customers bought “on the tick.” After one night of drinking he supposedly fed $8,000 of unpaid bills into the furnace. Cal also kept a “death book.” Each time someone he knew died, he’d record the date and manner of the death. Charles Drofich’s entry read, “…ha ha you dirty rat, you owed me $100.” One time, someone had been prank calling Cal after midnight over several nights, whispering, “You’re gonna die! You’re gonna DIE!! YOUR’RE GONNA DIE!!!” On the last night, Cal finally replied, “And you’re gonna get struck by lightning and die you bastard!”

But his drinking days were for the most part over by the early 1950s. It was said, one of his last nights of over indulgence came on September 6th, 1953, the night of his daughter Ruth’s wedding, in his stupor, accused Bobby of stealing $66,000 from him.

Sometime in early 1967, watching his wife’s slow demise to Parkinson’s, putting his worst fears into words, Cal would lament, “she wont be around much longer.” Later, he'd lose his leg to diabetes.

To pick up his spirits Dick and Bobby took him for a long ride. It was early June and they saw all the old haunts: along the Lizard Creek, to Snyders and to West Penn, Cal’s birthplace. He pointed out where his brother Clinton’s hotel once stood (a gas station now sets there, diagonally across the railroad tracks of the old, New Ringgold Hotel).  And true to Cal's unfiltered wit, he said half-jokingly how he he first became acquainted with a woman there, before he met Becky.
A March 1962 full page ad in the Times News.

On June 28, 1967, Cal began getting pain down his arm and in his chest, so Madeline took him to Gnaden Hutten hospital. In minutes, Cal’s humor had the nurses and staff in stitches. Madeline had phoned the store to tell everyone he was going to be okay. But minutes later his heart arrested and Cal died.
Daughter Betty Haas Forsythe said Becky never feared
ordering necessities from Sears.  Check #115 from
October 1963 was signed by Cal.  Only 210 checks later,
both Cal and Becky were gone by 1969, as
evidenced by daughter Madeline Haas Folweiler's

Two years later, Cal’s ‘Miracle Mets’ won the World Series. And forty-two years later, when his daughter Ruth died, her “Phillies” won it all too.

Becky eventually succumbed to her disease in a Lehigh Valley nursing home on June 6, 1969.

Undergoing a facelift in the early 1970s under the
ownership of Bobby Haas.  Hilbert, Madeline, and Sis
also worked there at that time.  And at different times, so
did all of grand kids of Cal Haas.

All the Haas Siblings Late 1970s/Early 1980s - Madeline, Miriam, Ruth, Robert, Betty Mae, Mildred "Sis" and Hilbert
with his classic beanie, enjoying their traditional Christmas Eve Party in Robert's basement.
The end of the Line - 1998 - Walmart and the big chain stores spelled the
demise of the "Mom and Pop" stores across our communities.


Sadie and Raymond Washburn Weigner (b. Aug 28, 1899) and they had three children: Clifford, Luella (said to be quite pretty), and George “Georgie.” Raymond died in a car accident at Summit Lawn in Allentown.  It was three days after Christmas in 1928.  Sadie was widowed and support her children as a "washerwoman."  She later remarried a man named Willis Balliet and they had a number of children together. Sadie died in childbirth, 14 April 1939 while delivering a daughter, Alice.  It has been said that some held a grudge against Willis who allegedly wouldn't call a doctor and only allowed his wife to be attended by a mid-wife. She delivered at 4:45 PM and died of "convulsions" by 10:30 that night.


Was born on November 17, 1904.  He married his second wife Bessie Farr on 23 September 1943 in Portland, Maine.  Wilmer lived at 13th St. in Allentown and ran "Haas' Restaurant" at 806 Hamilton St.  In a 1937 yearbook ad, Wilmer appears to be catering to the late-night crowd with his "25 hour service" boast.  He also promoted the Haas name with the ubiquitous rabbit, keeping a six foot white bunny in his front window.  In the years leading up to 1949, Wilmer and Bessie were living at 232 Second St in Catasauqua and he had become an insurance agent for the Colonial Life Insurance Co.  Sometime around 1949, they moved to 117 North 13th St in Allentown and only listed his occupation as restaurant owner.  He died in Allentown in July 1976.
Wilmer and his second wife
Bessie.  They married in Maine
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Mary Alice, Wilmer, Raymond, and David Haas

David holding great grand son of his granddaughter Eva Shellhammer and
her mother Alice Knepper.

Sarah Straub Haas, Mary Alice's sister.
Willard Haas shaves in the field in Sicily during
WWII.  He was the son of Davie and
Jennie Hartung Haas.

Stanley and Willard Haas.  Willard just died in
the past few years, like 2010 or so.  He became
a WWII vet who fought through Italy.
Agnes Haas Kunkel with husband with moustache.  Raymond Haas with
hat with Mary Alice.


  1. This is wonderful!!!!! My dad Ronald Maxwell Haas) was the son of Henry Haas and Dorothy Maxwell, but grew up with Jerry Victor and Carrie after a divorce when he was just 6 months. I have been researching our family tree for years now and this page has answered some impossible to find missing spots in it. Thank you so much,
    Lisa Haas Purinton

  2. No way! One of Wilmer Haas' grandkids worked at a tire dealer in Edmonton near me and he had all sorts of stories he had heard about Wilmer during the war. The pic of him shaving is priceless! Love the page :-)

  3. Thank you for the information. S. Zegalia (great grandson of Clinton, grandson of Olive.

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